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Samsung rumored to buy webOS to compete with Apple's iOS, Mac OS X

In an effort to more directly compete with Apple's integrated hardware-software approach, Samsung is rumored to be interested in buying webOS from Hewlett-Packard.

Earlier this month, HP announced it plans to spin off its PC business, and will also scrap the webOS software that powered devices like the Palm Pre and TouchPad. Samsung was initially rumored to be a candidate to buy HP's PC business, but the company denied those reports.

However, a new report from DigiTimes on Monday claims that while Samsung is not interested in HP's PC business, it is allegedly considering a purchase of the webOS software originally developed by Palm. Both HP and Samsung declined to comment.

"The sources noted that the acquisition of HP's PC business, which has a rather low gross margin, may turn out to hurt Samsung's panel and DRAM businesses that have rather high gross margins, therefore HP's webOS may be the target that Samsung has the most interest in," the report said.

The potential move is seen as a way to counter Apple's marriage of software and hardware, found in both iOS devices like the iPhone, as well as the company's Mac lineup powered by OS X. But a purchase of webOS is also viewed as a way for Samsung to push back against Google.

Earlier this month, Google announced it will acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. The deal gives Google access to Motorola's extensive patent portfolio, but also puts the search giant into the hardware business, as Motorola is a significant manufacturer of Android-powered devices.

Samsung, too, makes devices powered by Android, and the company may see Google's purchase of Motorola as a threat. Because of that, earlier this month it was claimed that Samsung is looking to strengthen Bada, its own smartphone operating system, to differentiate its products.

HP acquired Palm, along with webOS, in 2010 for $1.2 billion. The company initially planned to add webOS to Windows PCs, but those ambitious plans were scrapped this month, when the company announced it will instead focus on higher margin software and services.

Based on Monday's rumor, Samsung could pick up where HP left off, powering not only its smartphones and tablets with webOS, but also using the software to augment and differentiate its Windows-based PC business.